To Katahdin… and Beyond! We Did It

On Sept. 16, 2018, we summited Mount Katahdin and concluded the most surreal, beautiful, and challenging experience of our lives.

The last day felt like a dream. The five-mile stretch to Katahdin’s summit was spent passing hikers we’d spent the better part of the past 1,000 miles with, all exchanging congratulatory high-fives and hugs. 

I remember my heart racing as the infamous sign’s silhouette revealed itself through the fog. 

I remember tears falling freely as my hands finally met its weathered surface. 

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

We sat for a long while watching bits of blue sky break through the clouds above us, and openings in the fog expose a new, incredible landscape every few moments. 

Just 24 hours later, we found ourselves at the Katahdin Inn continental breakfast. All joking about where the next water source is and how strange everyone looks dressed in their clothes from home vs. the hiker laundry day attire of rain gear and hotel towels that we’ve all grown so accustomed to. The laughs settle into a silence over our waffles. 

So… what now?

A single question containing a million possibilities. 

It’s an intimidating question without a doubt, but with the momentum of what we’ve just accomplished, I’m ready to make the most of it.

First things first. Heal 

I’ve asked a lot from my body these past six months. More than I’ve ever asked before. It provided. Now, I’m excited to go home and provide for it. 

Every joint is creaky. Every muscle is sore. My skin has been covered in scrapes, bites, and rashes for months. My stomach feels shaky and energy feels low from living off Snickers and ramen noodles for a majority of this hike. 

I’m planning on continuing to build the calluses on my feet by sticking to barefoot shoes in my day-to -day life. I’m also going to rebuild the strength in my hands through massage therapy, playing music, and building the foundation for Nugget’s and my homestead. We built our first chicken coop this past weekend.

Despite the fact that everything hurts, my feet, legs, and core have never felt more powerful. I want to keep this new muscle mass, while restrengthening my upper body through yoga and a series of natural movement-based exercises. 

We’re also back to making our weekly batches of bone broth, kombucha, and eating as many living greens as we can to heal our guts. 

Simplify 

Living off of ten pounds on my back for so many months, over so many miles, and through so many situations has been incredibly eye opening for me.

I’ve never lived with less or felt more alive.

Foggy day on Franconia Ridge.

Minimalism (essentialism, simple living, or whatever else you want to call it) was one of the shifts in perspective that allowed me to hike the Appalachian Trail in the first place. Just building that kind of intention with my belongings brought clarity to both my living space and mental space, helped me pay my debts, save for the hike, and helped me realize that hiking the trail was something I was truly passionate about. 

Not just surviving, but being happy with only what I could carry was something that I was excited to experience, but it was honestly even better than I hoped it would be. 

I loved being free from the weight of physical belongings, along with not getting swept away by constant distractions. Not feeling the need to check my phone, spend hours streaming shows, or stretch myself too thin with work projects that don’t align with my goals. 

I don’t feel drawn to those habits after spending so much time away from them, and I plan to keep it that way. I’m going to create the same kind of breathing room trail life had in my day-to-day life.

Grow 

This hike has taught me that people are far more powerful than they realize. 

Mornings in the 100-Mile Wilderness.

Realizing the potential each day and each person holds, combined with the momentum of achieving a life goal of mine, has me feeling ready to tackle even my non-hiking-related dreams. 

Although I didn’t write publicly as much as I intended to during my hike, I journaled each and every day, and I do intend to share my experiences as time goes on. I’ll be sharing through posts, through pictures, and through videos. 

I’m going to delve deeper into my understanding of health and wellness, continue to strengthen my connection to nature, and of course, start putting together a plan to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. 

Thank you to anyone and everyone who took part in our journey. The trail wouldn’t be what it is without you. 

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